I have been living in Germany for six years, took German language courses, but still could not claim fluency in speaking and writing the language. Although in our core of beings, we are still the same rice-eating and fish sauce lover human being, we have readily and willingly adapted the German culture by learning the language. German is not easy, but I would be pleasantly surprised when I hear fellow expats speaking German with much confidence.
For newly arrived Filipinos struggling to learn the language, here are some tips to learn German effectively:
In your German language class, sit beside a classmate that does not speak English.
This will force you to communicate purely in German and would have to make explanations in German. I use to sit in my German classes with a Mexican Au pair and we spoke English which I realized later is counterproductive for me. I did not go to German class to speak English, but to learn German as effectively as possible.
Watch German programs on television.
There is such a thing as learning faster when you are having fun. I would recommend watching TV programs, perhaps those that are easier to understand such as children cartoons or soap operas. These programs usually use simple daily languages. When I was new in Germany, I watched Anna und die Liebe, to the chagrin of my husband who simply hated soap operas. But anyway, persevere and later you would be pleasantly surprised that you are already promoted to watching the Tagesschau or news.
Read books in German.
I hear some complaints in this department. I am simply guilty of not reading in German books on my first years in Germany. My argument, back then, was that, reading is for my pleasure. Why should I forgo the pleasure of reading a book that I don’t understand? I would recommend reading simple books first, like comics or romance books. The newspaper could be read later when your German vocabulary is vastly improved, which would come later.
Talk German with your neighbor.
This is an easy suggestion to extroverts. But to an introvert like me, who would rather learn the language in private, that would be another story. However, I have come to realize that Germans, especially the older grandmas, appreciate talking to foreigners and would be very willing to help ones you express interest in learning. I have a friend who used spring rolls to learn German. Well, she would invite her elderly neighbor for cake and coffee and would offer spring rolls as take home. During this meeting, she would be forced to speak in German the whole time. The neighbors have only praises for her spring rolls.
Talk German as much as possible.
If your German husband speaks in English, don’t speak to him, treat him like an invisible man. Insist that you’d rather speak German. Speak German with children. It is a pleasure to speak to children because they speak simple sentences. Lucky for you if you have a kid. Possibilities of talking to children vary from kindergarten to playgrounds.
The first years of leaning German will be filled with frustration, misunderstandings and difficulty, but don’t give up. You are only one of those struggling Filipinos who would definitely be speaking like a professional in a few years. The most important thing is to have that desire to learn and the patience to persevere.